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Old 01-24-2013, 05:24 PM   #1
creamweather
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Default Sour starter smells like nail polish remover

I'm new to sours, and I wanted to get some going so I made up a starter with some weak runnings, dregs from a Petrus Aged Pale and a drop of sludge from my first sour, a Berliner Weisse made with WY 3191. This was on Saturday. It formed a pellicle and I gave it a whiff yesterday and the solvent smell is pretty strong.

The internet tells me it's ethyl acetate, but I didnt find many straight answers if it's ok to keep or toss it out. Maybe I accidentally over oxygenated it?

I'd rather not make five gallons of paint remover or vinegar.


Any advise appreciated

Thank you

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Old 01-25-2013, 03:52 PM   #2
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So it smells like Petrus Aged Pale? Haha!

Sounds like ethyl acetate to me as well, better to dump it than risk what it'll do to you beer. Although, odds are that you'd be fine if you got a strong primary fermentation and then kept it anaerobic, I'm risk-adverse when it comes to long aging times. This is a big reason I tend to avoid making mixed starters. Giving it the oxygen the yeast needs to grow can cause acetic acid production

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Old 01-25-2013, 05:40 PM   #3
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That can also be enterobacter doing its thing. It should stop reproducing once the ph drops below 4.3. Try to let it go for a few weeks and see then. It might clean up.

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Old 01-25-2013, 05:53 PM   #4
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That can also be enterobacter doing its thing. It should stop reproducing once the ph drops below 4.3. Try to let it go for a few weeks and see then. It might clean up.
I doubt there would be an enterobacter in dregs of well aged sour beers, just saying.
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Old 01-25-2013, 06:20 PM   #5
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Well, it probably didn't originate in the petrus. Depending on the Berliner process he used, sanitation, and the ph of the starter, that seems like it might create an environment where enterobacter could propagate. Just a thought based on the OP's situation. And, if it is the case, the starter might clean up and be useful down the line.

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Old 01-25-2013, 07:33 PM   #6
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Well, it probably didn't originate in the petrus. Depending on the Berliner process he used, sanitation, and the ph of the starter, that seems like it might create an environment where enterobacter could propagate. Just a thought based on the OP's situation. And, if it is the case, the starter might clean up and be useful down the line.
I think its much more likely that the acetic acid bacteria present in the Petrus (given its flavor) is back to work again in the starter. Entric bacteria is really only an issue in spontaneous fermentation where there isn't a large initial population of yeast and lactic acid bacteria.

I had similar issues with a starter of dregs that included Russian River Deviation (one of their only beers with an acetic edge), hurt to dump that one.
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Old 01-28-2013, 02:21 PM   #7
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Well, the nail polish remover smell has mellowed into malt vinegar. I guess that solves the mystery. Maybe I can let it age out and dunk my fries in it.

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Old 01-28-2013, 05:51 PM   #8
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I started a supplication clone a few weeks ago that had a similar smell. I pitched white labs abbey ale yeast (530) , sour bug mix 1 (655), and the dregs of a supplication (no starters). The next day I had a vigorous fermentation but a strong nail polish smell coming from the airlock. 12 hours later it was gone and smelled normal again, as it has since. I'm just hoping it will be ok, I figure I'll give it a taste in a month or two and see if there are any crazy flavors in there. Keeping my fingers crossed for now.

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Old 08-21-2013, 01:31 PM   #9
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I have a starter of ECY02 that I added dregs of an Avery Odio and JP La Roja. Gave it a smell last night and it was giving off a nail polish remover smell. I'd hate to dump it. Anyone else have experience with nail polish remover starters?

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Old 08-21-2013, 05:28 PM   #10
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Dump your nail polish starter down the drain. Acetic Acid has taken over and there is no way back. Sorry...and bummer.

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